The European Investment Bank (EIB) has awarded a €155m loan to Bord Gáis to go towards the construction of six onshore wind farms in the counties of Clare, Kilkenny and Tipperary over the next two years.
The move comes a week after the State-owned energy group raised €500m in a bond sale, borrowing from over 400 European financial institutions to refinance some of its existing debt.
Bord Gáis will use the €155m loan to build six wind farms, which will have a total wind generation capacity of 141 megawatts (MW). Some of the projects have already started, but all six farms are set to be operational by early 2014.
The wind farms include two projects in Ballymartin, Co Kilkenny, a wind farm in Booltiagh, Co Clare, plus three wind farms in Co Tipperary at locations in Garracummer, Kill Hill and in Lisheen.
The EIB loan will make up around 50pc of the total investment programme to build the six wind farms, which Bord Gáis estimates will cost €311m.
The energy provider said that the new wind farms will increase the operational wind capacity of Bord Gáis wind farms from 234MW to 365MW.
Ireland has set a target to ensure that at least 16pc of all energy consumed in the country is from renewables by 2020, with 40pc of electricity to be consumed from renewables in that timeframe.
The EIB’s vice-president Mihai Tanasescu said today that the bank backs renewable energy investment across Europe.
"The Bord Gáis programme uses a free natural resource that exists in abundance in Ireland and will create jobs across the country … Completion of these projects will contribute to the achievement of the Irish Government’s renewable energy targets," he said.
Bord Gáis Energy’s managing director Dave Kirwan said that the EIB’s funding is a "major" vote of confidence in the strategic direction the energy provider is taking.
"This EIB funding is critical in supporting our roadmap for wind. Over the next three years, we will add a further 250MW of wind-generating capacity to our portfolio," he said.
Bord Gáis already operates 132 turbines on 13 wind farms across Ireland.
Wind-turbine image via Shutterstock